Why You Always See Tennis Shoes on Telephone Lines

You've seen a pair of tennis shoes hanging on a telephone wire before—we all have. Just like we've all wondered why the hell they were up in there first place, not to mention why it seems to consistently happen in every major city you go to. The short, 14-minute documentary "The Mystery of the Flying Kicks" wants to find out.


The short answer? Drugs, sex, organized crime, and, well, artistic expression, actually. Consisting entirely of crowd-sourced, strung-together audio recordings, YouTube videos, photographs, and animations as well as commissioned footage, the final video from Australian filmmaker Matt Babe is a product of the most interesting theories, tales, and fictions about where the flying footwear comes from and what it's for. Babe's original obsession began with simply photographing the telephone mystery, but it soon snowballed into something he knew he had to put to film.

As Babe told ABC News:

That’s why the film looks the way it does. We’d get the audio and then we’d work out how to tell the story. ‘Do we animate it? Do we go on YouTube and try to find footage?’ I would also do a lot of research and find people that maybe lived in a particular neighborhood. Like we had a story about Harlem, and I thought, well how are we going to get to Harlem?

So I found this guy on YouTube who films gangs on the streets and just kind of films them waving their 45s at the camera. I wrote to him and asked if he could talk to locals on the street. And I paid him about $200 to just go out and walk around the streets of Harlem – somewhere I would never be able to go – and he went out there and did interviews.

So by relying on the internet—which, surprisingly enough, often manages to pull through the in the most outstanding ways—Babe was able to document a worldwide phenomenon entirely from his home. And the finished film is a delightful mesh of whimsical animations, gritty reality, and a central story that almost everyone can relate to. But the real question—do we finally find out the answer behind the mysterious kicks in the sky? Well—yes and no, but the result ends up being more satisfying than a definitive answer could ever hope be. Don't just trust us, though—watch for yourself. [ABC News]


Der Sportwagoner

Isn't is interesting how Americans call nearly all rubber soled sporty shoes "tennis shoes"? Regardless if they were actually manufactured for basketball, running, training, or just kicking around, they are regularly called tennis shoes. Ages ago, were shoes made for tennis the first non-dress shoes or something? The original rubber soled footwear? If so, that might explain it.

I prefer "sneakers", while a curious moniker in its own right, as least it doesn't falsely indicate the footwear's intended purpose.